Excellence in Innovation for Australia trial measures impact of university research
28 November 2012
A national trial undertaken by 12 Australian Universities has found significant economic, social and environmental benefits, or ‘impact’, arise from research undertaken at Australian universities. The trial also confirmed that this impact is able to be assessed.
The 12 Universities taking part in the trial comprised members of the Australian Technology Network of Universities (ATN) and the Group of Eight Universities (Go8), plus Charles Darwin and Newcastle Universities and the University of Tasmania.
The ‘Excellence in Innovation for Australia’ (EIA) trial involved 7 panels of 75 volunteers, 70% of which were external industry and business sector experts, assessing 162 case studies provided by the participating universities. Of these case studies, 87% were found to have considerable, very considerable or outstanding impact.
ATN Chair Professor Jeanette Hacket said the importance of the EIA trial’s positive outcome relates to its synergy with the numerous studies which have highlighted the role of innovation and research as key drivers for Australia of productivity and economic growth at a time when it is a stated aim of Australia to be a world leader in innovation.
“The trial indicates clearly that the research funding provided to Australian Universities by Government can deliver evidence that it is a worthy investment by taxpayers in our nation’s future through its measurable impact for the nation, the region and the world.
“Until the recent EIA trial, while it was never in doubt that research from Australian Universities can and does deliver positive impact, that fact had not been communicated by universities as well as it might and it also lacked measurement that could be understood and accepted by those outside of academia,” Professor Hacket said.
Professor Fred Hilmer, Chair of the Go8, said “In undertaking the Trial, the ATN and the Go8 share a commitment, in the national interest, to producing research that is not only excellent but also benefits the broader Australian community.
“Critical to this commitment is the ability of our universities to reliably measure the benefits of the full range of our research output to the broader community. Such indicators show the importance of the investment government makes in university research.”
The EIA trial was specifically designed to judge whether the impact of university research could be assessed, and if so, whether this assessment could be completed using a panel of predominately external experts assessing research case studies.
It is seen by the universities involved as a positive first step to further investigate with Government how such a process could be implemented nationally and what principles might guide its development.